27th Jan 2022

Commission concedes EU emission target is too small

  • The commission says an EU pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050 could be endangered (Photo: DerGuy82)

Europe needs to reduce its CO2 emissions by 25 percent over the next decade, rather than the currently agreed 20 percent, if the bloc is to meet a longer-term goal for 2050, a communication to be published by the European Commission next month is set to say.

A draft of the '2050 Roadmap', seen by EUobserver, says the EU can meet this tougher target however by ensuring its current energy efficiency pledge is kept.

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EU leaders meeting in Brussels earlier this month conceded that member states needed to boost their efforts in order to meet a non-binding promise of increasing EU energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020.

Binding targets for CO2 emission cuts and increased renewable energy use have helped keep member states on track, say environmental activists, but the EU as so far shied away from extending the tougher rules to energy efficiency, despite the current slippage.

In the 2050 Roadmap, the commission says an EU pledge in October 2009 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050 could be endangered if sectors such as power generation, transport and agriculture, together with home owners, fail to reduce their energy wastage.

"The analysis shows that the cost-efficient pathway to the necessary reduction in 2050 requires a 25 percent domestic reduction in 2020," says the draft paper. "It also shows, however, that the EU can produce this reduction if it delivers on its existing commitment to increase energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020."

The 25 percent emission cutting target by 2020 is not a formal pledge to international partners, with climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard set to reiterate the EU's current 20 percent pledge, rising to 30 percent if other major economies follow suit, when she presents the roadmap next month.

An Energy Efficiency Plan, also set to be published by the commission in March and seen by this website, provides greater details on how member states can meet the EU's energy efficiency target.

If implemented, the plan could potentially cut "consumers' bills by up to €1,000 per household a year and improve Europe's industrial competitiveness translating into up to 2 million new jobs over the period 2011-2020," says the second draft text.

"As the greatest energy saving and energy efficiency potential lies in the existing building stock ... the plan focuses on the exemplary role of the public sector proposing binding targets for the public sector to accelerate the refurbishment rate of its own building stock and the introduction of the highest energy efficiency criteria in public procurement," continues the document.

A commission White Paper on the future of Transport, set to be published alongside the other two strategy papers, will outline ways to achieve energy efficiency savings in the transport sector.

Environmental groups greeted the leaked 2050 Roadmap with muted support.

"The discussion within the European Commission to increase the EU's target for emission reductions beyond the current figure of 20 percent by 2020 is welcome, but a 25 percent reduction represents little more than business as usual, and is a clear step down from the proposed 30 percent," said Friends of the Earth Europe campaigner Brook Riley.

"Commissioner Hedegaard's reliance on energy efficiency to deliver higher CO2 emission cuts strengthens the case for a binding 2020 energy savings target."

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